Internal Audit Charter
1.1 This Charter sets out the purpose, authority and responsibilities of the Internal Audit function in the Department of the Taoiseach.
2.0 Internal Audit Unit
2.1 The Internal Audit Unit’s function is to provide assurance to the Accounting Officer on the adequacy and effectiveness of the Department’s system of internal controls.
2.2 The Unit operates as a resource for Departmental and Divisional Managers through its analysis and appraisal of Departmental controls systems. In its reports the Unit makes recommendations to management based on ‘Best Practice’.
2.3 The Unit also acts in an advisory capacity to projects under development to ensure the adequacy of control measures.
3.0 Internal Audit Committee
3.1 The Accounting Officer is the person responsible for appointing the membership of the Internal Audit Committee. The Committee comprises 2 Department officials and 2 external representatives from another Government Department. The Accounting Officer may change the membership of the Committee as and when required.
- Mr John Malone, (Chair).
- Mr. Philip Hamell, Assistant Secretary, Department of the Taoiseach.
- Mr John Callinan, Assistant Secretary, Department of the Taoiseach.
- Ms Elizabeth Canavan, Assistant Secretary, Department of Children and Youth Affairs.
3.2 Although not members of the Committee, the Heads of the Finance Unit and Internal Audit Unit may attend Committee meetings. The Managers of any Divisions or Offices may attend Committee meetings discussing internal audit reports on their particular sections. The Committee may occasionally decide to hold meetings without these Managers (including the Head of the Finance Unit) being present.
3.3 The Internal Audit Committee will consider the work of the Internal Audit Unit comprising audit reports that have been submitted, the schedule of work (Work Programmes) and other matters as appropriate.
3.4 The operation of the Internal Audit Committee will be reviewed by the Accounting Officer, the Chairperson of the Committee and the Head of the Internal Audit Unit after a three-year period.
3.5 The Internal Audit Committee should ensure Quality Assurance Reviews of the Internal Audit Unit on a regular basis, i.e. at least once every five years.
4.1 The Internal Audit Unit operates as an independent advisory service and outside of this has no operational role. Responsibility for internal control rests with Managers who, without regard to audit activity, ensure that appropriate and adequate control arrangements exist in their areas of responsibility. The role of internal audit is to appraise the adequacy and effectiveness of those arrangements and to make recommendations for improvements as appropriate.
4.2 It is for Managers and Departmental management to decide upon the appropriate response to reports and recommendations of internal audit.
4.3 The Internal Audit Unit will liaise, as necessary and appropriate, with external auditors, including the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General.
4.4 The Internal Audit Unit is authorised to have full access to Departmental records (manual and electronic), physical properties and personnel relevant to the carrying out of a review. It will be responsible for affording to records and other materials entrusted to its care, the same protections afforded by staff in whose care they normally are retained.
4.4.1 In rare cases where issues of exceptional sensitivity of records arise (e.g. Northern Ireland), the Accounting Officer may decide an appropriate level of access to be afforded to the Internal Auditor.
4.4.2 Where access to documentation is stipulated in contracts/agreements between the Department and third parties, Internal Audit may also have access to such documentation where it is relevant to the carrying on of its audits.
5.1 The Internal Audit Unit will, in general, adopt a systems-based approach to its audits, supplemented where appropriate, by the use of traditional transaction-testing, vouching and verification methods.
5.2 The Internal Audit Unit will be responsible for reviewing and appraising the following: -
5.2.1 the design and operation of all systems and procedures (financial, managerial etc.) which are intended to control the Department's operations, including those used by management to measure the effectiveness of programmes and other activities of the Department;
5.2.2 the adequacy, reliability and integrity of the information systems used to monitor the Departments activities and to ensure accountability;
5.2.3 the degree of compliance with (a) legislation (domestic and international) and other requirements laid down centrally (e.g. by the Department of Finance) and (b) management plans, procedures and policies;
5.2.4 the acquisition and disposal of assets and the safeguarding of assets and interests from losses, including those arising from fraud, malpractice and irregularity;
5.2.5 arrangements for the economic and efficient use of resources and for avoiding waste.
6.0 Reporting Accountabilities
6.1 The Head of the Internal Audit Unit will report to the Internal Audit Committee on a regular basis, as agreed in the context of the Annual Work Programme, and in particular circumstances, as requested by the Accounting Officer/Internal Audit Committee.
6.2 Audit reports prepared by the Internal Auditor will be submitted to the Accounting Officer by the Head of Internal Audit. A copy of the reports will also be circulated to the Internal Audit Committee which in turn will submit its observations on reports to the Accounting Officer.
6.3 The Internal Audit Committee will submit an annual report to the Accounting Officer. A copy will be provided, for information, to the Taoiseach.
7.1 The expenses of the Internal Audit function shall be met from the Vote of the Department of the Taoiseach.
8.0 Conflict of Interest
8.1. In view of the relatively small size of the Department and the need to make the most efficient use of resources the Head of the Internal Audit Unit will be assigned on a part-time basis. However, to ensure an appropriate level of access within the Department and that particular concerns and recommendations are acted upon, he/she shall be at Principal Officer level and will perform the audit role in addition to his/her Divisional duties within the Department.
8.2. Should for any reason a matter arise relating to the Principal Officer’s dual roles where a potential conflict of interest might arise then he/she should advise the Chairman of the Audit Committee accordingly who will ensure that appropriate steps are taken.
7 July 2012